‘Our key players need time to breathe’ – Millwall head coach Edwards on his playing style vision

Joe Edwards has revealed more on his playing vision for Millwall.

The new Lions head coach saw his team produce a big win – 4-0 – at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend in his first fixture since succeeding Gary Rowett.

And Edwards spoke after his appointment about Millwall’s strength being as an “out of possession” side under Rowett.

The former Chelsea and Everton coach’s career at the South London club is in its infancy as he looks to produce a new approach.

Asked what that ideally looks like in the future, Edwards told the South London Press: “It would to be to have a little more of the ball than we do at the moment typically.

“The reason I say a little bit is that, of course, I’d like to be the manager of a team who hardly lets the opponent have a touch of the ball. But I’m being realistic.

“What this league is now, the Championship, and where we are now, we don’t need to start having 80 per cent possession of the ball. When you inherit the group that we’ve got and they have been out of possession focused, there is some strength in that. The fact that you can have your moment where you suffer without the ball – but you suffer well.

“You don’t want to take away that real raw, work ethic the lads have got.

“We gave them a game plan of how we wanted to be without the ball – how diligently they followed that plan and organised they were was really pleasing for a coach.

“I just felt from what I’ve seen in the past and even at times on Saturday, there are times you put in all that hard work – you’re organised and wait to get that moment to win the ball back, but when you do there are times you need to pause, get a breather a bit and look after the ball, open the pitch up. Get your key players on the ball because they can control the tempo of the game or create those moments where you can hurt the opposition.

“You need to give those players time to breathe a little bit.

“I’ve seen certain players in the team really have to work, work, work without the ball to the point that when you win it then it can become a bit rushed or they are at their max and it isn’t easy to make that calm decision or show that quality that we need.

“There were spells of it Saturday but I’d like to see a bit more calm and quality when we’ve got the ball, so we can create and attack.

“One of the big things we’ve spoken about in general is when we attack, and this goes hand in hand with this idea of attacking more gradually so we can progress up the pitch as a whole team, is that the break (for George Saville’s goal at Wednesday) was fairly quick.

“Zian found Brooke but what I like is when Brooke was making the run out wide, although he is busting a gut to get there initially, we had people really trying to support him. It wasn’t a case of ‘go on Brooke, you go and do what you can and have a run on your own’.

“But the big picture I want to see from us is that when Sav did strike it from the edge of the box, Wes and Coops weren’t too far behind him. So we had pretty much our whole outfield team in the opponents’ defensive third. That’s where we want to be.

“You get your moments like we did on Saturday where Sav produces the goods and volleys it in. But the times it doesn’t and creates a loose ball or second ball, if we can get our whole team on the front foot and really sustain that pressure – particularly at The Den – that’s what I want to see from us.”

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